About: Ilona Bray

Ilona Bray is a former attorney and the author of several Nolo immigration books. Her working background includes both solo immigration practice and working or volunteering as an immigration attorney with nonprofit organizations in Seattle and California.

Recent Posts by Ilona Bray

Nolo Contributing Author Kyle Knapp Volunteers in Dilley, Texas Detention Center

dilleyWondering why you haven’t read any new immigration-law articles by Nolo contributing author Kyle Knapp lately? Kyle just returned from a week in Dilley, Texas, site of the nation’s largest immigration detention center.

He volunteered his time to provide legal assistance to migrants held there–numerous migrants.

His experience provides a powerful reminder that, while the flow of Central American migrants has slowed and the news headlines all but disappeared, the human need continues.

“We helped 263 women prepare for their ‘credible fear interviews‘ to get them past the first hurdle in applying for asylum and getting out of the prison. The prison has capacity for 2,400 people, and there are 1,200 there now. If it were at capacity, I don’t think we’d ever be able to help them all. Working in the ‘visitation center,’ every time you look up, there’s another group of 15 to 30 women waiting for either intake or consultations,” Kyle explains.

Kudos to Kyle, and to the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, the American Immigration Council, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association, collectively known as CARA, which have joined forces to coordinate lawyers to volunteer at this and other U.S. immigration detention centers.

Trouble Selling Your Luxury Home? At Least You’re Not a Celebrity!

clock and faceAre Americans less starry-eyed about celebrities than they used to be? (Hard to believe, with a reality-TV star a nominee for the U.S. presidency.)

Or is there some other explanation for the fact that, according to a widely reported Redfin study, celeb-owned properties sit on the market for “about 36 days longer than other homes and they usually sell for less than the original asking price,” and in some cases for less than the amount they purchased it for?

One theory posited by Redfin is that, during their period of homeownership, celebrities tend to think less about resale value than about satisfying their own, possibly unusual, tastes. If they want a basketball court in the basement, so be it.

Another theory is that the privacy that major stars in the world of sports, movies, music, and so on must maintain–and the fear of being overrun by curious “looky-lous”–makes it difficult to open the house up to visitors. (Agents for buyers must convince the selling agent that the buyers are serious, and sometimes put them through a screening process.)

It’s bad enough to be an ordinary homeowner wondering about whether the open-house visitors will steal your prescription pills: Imagine worrying about whether visitors will not only steal the pills, but go to the media about what meds you’re on! (See “Theft During House Showing: What Can We Do?” for more on this issue.)

Still, bemoaning the inability to hold open houses is rather ironic, when you consider how much ink the real estate industry has spilled about whether open houses are actually worth the time and effort. So if you’re a nobody, you might as well revel in your nobody-ness, open your house to the public, and enjoy the benefits of having a stream of visitors.

For more tips and strategies, see Selling Your Home: Nolo’s Essential Guide.

Hmm, Maybe a Scoreboard Wasn’t Quite What This Donor Thought He Was Funding

grassHere’s one you can file under, “Complying With the Letter of the Law Won’t Necessarily Keep You Out of Trouble.”

The University of New Hampshire seems to have been, legally speaking, properly handling a testamentary donation when it used one fourth of the $4 million that thrifty library cataloguer Robert Morin saved and left to the college for–are you ready?–a football scoreboard.

Mr. Morin had, it appears true, made a mostly unrestricted gift. By law, a nonprofit that receives such a gift must simply put it toward purposes that it believes to be appropriate within its mission. Sports is unquestionably part of a university’s mission (as opposed to, say, sending all the board members to Vegas for a weekend’s entertainment).

But does such a gift honor the donor’s legacy and convey a positive message to possible future donors? Many say not.

The importance of books and the library to Mr. Morin is revealed by the fact that, of his large gift, he earmarked $100,000 for the library where he worked for nearly 50 years.

The library was, according to reports, Mr. Morin’s “whole life;” he was so devoted to books that he systematically read nearly every one ever published in the United States. He also liked to sit outside the library smoking a pipe and chatting with students.

Perhaps if he’d been rolling in dough, the university’s use of his life savings would be less subject to question. But this is a man who reportedly lived humbly, drove an old Plymouth, and subsisted on frozen dinners.

In the end, it comes down to a public relations matter. In its press release announcing the gift, the university tried to allay criticism by saying, in essence, “He liked football, too!”

Other potential donors might not be so convinced–and even if they make gifts to the college, they might place more restrictions on them. Such restrictions can be a pain to deal with, particularly after years pass and the recipient’s programs and activities change, as described in Nonprofit Gifts: When Strings Are Attached.

New Edition of “Effective Fundraising for Nonprofits” Hits the Shelves!

effn5_1_1Nolo’s all-around guide to raising money for small to mid-size charitable organization has been a success since it was first published, not only becoming a resource for not nonprofit staff, but used at many universities to teach fundraising principles.

We’re please to announce that the book has just been released in its fifth edition.

Like every Nolo book, we take pains to update and freshen it up before issuing a new version. This latest one features:

  • Detailed new advice on running a crowdfunding campaign, including how to choose the best crowdfunding platform.
  • New stories from fundraising experts, such as Ligia Peña’s description of how to hold a donor-appreciation event, and John McArdle’s discussion of how to take donors’ personalities and wishes into account when crafting appeals.
  • New sample letters and marketing materials.

Check it out, along with Nolo’s other publications on starting and running nonprofit organizations.

Adult Kid Living at Home? You’re Not Alone, And It’s Not Forever

Paper house attached to yellow blank price tag on blue background

Pricey rental markets, low housing inventory and high home costs, crushing student debt loads, and difficulty finding jobs are adding up to an unmistakable U.S. trend: kids moving back in with mom and dad after graduating from a college or university.

If you live in New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, Florida, or California, the odds of having a child living at home are especially high, according to an August 18, 2016 analysis from Stateline.

Feel better now that you know it’s not just your kid? Great. But if you’re still hoping that the situation doesn’t last forever, you might want to point junior to a couple of Nolo’s free online articles:

Oops, yes, that latter one means your son or daughter may be coming to you requesting help with the down payment or more. But you wouldn’t be alone in that, either–it’s the only way that many young people today can afford to break into the real estate market.

If providing such help is financially impossible, here’s another prospect for you to consider: Do I Need a Building Permit to Construct a Tiny House in My Backyard? It could be a way to put some space between you and your returnee!

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